A Beginner's Guide To GamStop
Do you feel as if you're spending too much time or money gambling? Or, are you using money set aside for other important things like your rent or bills?
If this is the case, then it might be time to consider a self-exclusion period.
Not sure what that is or how to do it? Don't worry, we're here to help take you through everything you need to know about GamStop and other services to get your gambling habits back under control.
What is GamStop?
GamStop is a free national online self-exclusion scheme launched by the Remote Gambling Association. It’s operated by The National Online Self-Exclusion Scheme Limited – a not-for-profit organisation.
GamStop gives those who access online gaming sites or apps the power to self-exclude simultaneously from all participating online gambling operators in the UK.
Why is GamStop different from going to the site operators directly?
Put simply, GamStop is a one-stop self-exclusion solution. Rather than having to go to each individual site, GamStop will exclude you from all UK licensed gambling sites in one swoop, whether you hold an account with them or not. It really is that easy.
How long does GamStop last?
You can choose to self-exclude for a period of six months, one year or five years.
Once you've signed up to GamStop, you’ll no longer be able to access any of your accounts.
You’ll also be removed from marketing databases so that the online gaming companies will no longer be able to contact you.
What if you decide to open a new account with a new operator?
GamStop provides self-exclusion services not only from the sites where you currently have open accounts, but even from the ones where you don't.
So, if you’re tempted to sign up to a site where you've never held an account during your self-exclusion period, your request will be denied.
How to apply for GamStop
It only takes a few minutes to sign up with GamStop and start the self-exclusion process.
Simply head to GamStop and provide a few details that will help them confirm your identity. These include your postcode, date of birth and email address.
Make sure that you provide them with any email addresses that you've used to sign up for online gaming sites.
The process should only take a few minutes, but can take up to 24 hours to take effect – please be aware of this when you sign up.
What happens once you've self-excluded with GamStop?
It’s important to understand that self-exclusion with GamStop will only apply to those UK gambling sites that have registered with the service. You can find a list of companies that are participating here.
You should also be aware that once you’ve self-excluded, the process can’t be reversed during your chosen period of time. You’ll be unable to use your accounts or set up new ones until the self-exclusion period is over.
Your accounts will also not automatically be reopened. If you want access to your accounts once the self-exclusion is finished, then you’ll need to go back to GamStop and inform them that you want to be removed from the scheme.
It should be noted that in the UK, all online gambling sites are required to be signed up to GamStop following an order from the Gambling Commission in 2020. Any site which appears not to be working in partnership with GamStop, therefore, is operating illegally and you should abandon playing there immediately.
How to establish your limits
It's not always easy to recognise your own limits, but here are some tips to help you keep your gambling under control:
Establish your budget and set limits for depositing, wagering, and losses before you start playing.
Decide on a time limit before you start playing and stick to it. You may even find it useful to set a timer.
Don't gamble if you are under the influence of alcohol or any other substance. This can make it more difficult to stick to your agreed limits.
Don't gamble if your only aim is to recover losses. This can lead to periods of ‘chasing’ which result in the loss of considerable sums.
Other action you can take
There are other practical ways in which you can put a barrier between yourself and gambling.
Certain pieces of anti-gambling software can help you to curb a harmful gambling habit.
Ad blockers, for example, will reduce the amount of advertising you see online, including advertisements from online gaming sites.
You can also install gambling-specific software such as Gamban which will block online gaming sites on all computers, tablets, and phones which you have access to.
Delete and unsubscribe
If you have online gaming apps on your phone or tablet, take the first and most important step of deleting them.
You can also unfollow any online gaming sites on social media and unsubscribe from their emails.
If you feel as though online gaming is starting to create problems in your life then it’s important that you seek external help.
You can call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133 to receive confidential support and information. You can also get online support from Gamblers Anonymous by visiting their website.
In recent years, GamStop has been part of the TalkBanStop campaign, a website offering free help, advice and practical tools to help combat problem gaming. It’s a joint venture between gambling charity GamCare, Gamban and GamStop.
Through the TalkBanStop website, you can access all the help available to you through the National Gambling Helpline, as well as other useful guides, courses and information about addressing problematic gambling habits.